André Gide (1869 – 1951) was a famous French novelist who authored The Immoralist, as well as an early defence of same-sex love and eroticism (including pederasty) in Corydon, receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In his journal, Gide distinguishes between adult-attracted “sodomites” and boy-loving “pederasts”, categorizing himself as the latter (Gide, 1948):
I call a pederast the man who, as the word indicates, falls in love with young boys. I call a sodomite (“The word is sodomite, sir,” said Verlaine to the judge who asked him if it were true that he was a sodomist) the man whose desire is addressed to mature men. […]
The pederasts, of whom I am one (why cannot I say this quite simply, without your immediately claiming to see a brag in my confession?), are much rarer, and the sodomites much more numerous, than I first thought. […]
That such loves can spring up, that such relationships can be formed, it is not enough for me to say that this is natural; I maintain that it is good; each of the two finds exaltation, protection, a challenge in them; and I wonder whether it is for the youth or the elder man that they are more profitable.
Gide was bisexual, although he preferred young males. His journal approvingly describes the bodies of a 12-year-old male and young female:
Both at Saint-Martin and here I have seen, among the guests of the hotel, none but faces exuding stupidity, egotism, and vulgarity. (Except for a Greek boy of twelve with a marvelous face and body, wonderfully svelte; but excessively aware of his beauty and, consequently, quite stupid with self-satisfaction.) Yet at the next table to the one where I am writing, and turning her back to me, a girl, barely beyond childhood, with great elegance in her outlines, whom M. would like. I do not tire of looking at her; she notices this and, I believe, is amused by it. But already one can foresee just where her features are going to thicken and become heavy.
Wilde took a key out of his pocket and showed me into a tiny apartment of two rooms… The youths followed him, each of them wrapped in a burnous that hid his face. Then the guide left us and Wilde sent me into the further room with little Mohammed and shut himself up in the other with the [other boy]. Every time since then that I have sought after pleasure, it is the memory of that night I have pursued. […]
My joy was unbounded, and I cannot imagine it greater, even if love had been added. How should there have been any question of love? How should I have allowed desire to dispose of my heart? No scruple clouded my pleasure and no remorse followed it. But what name then am I to give the rapture I felt as I clasped in my naked arms that perfect little body, so wild, so ardent, so sombrely lascivious?
For a long time after Mohammed had left me, I remained in a state of passionate jubilation, and though I had already achieved pleasure five times with him, I renewed my ecstasy again and again, and when I got back to my room in the hotel, I prolonged its echoes until morning.
Gide’s novel Corydon, which he considered his most important work, erects a defense of pederasty.
- Gide A. (1948). O’Brien J., translator. The Journals Of André Gide, Vol II 1914-1927. Alfred A.Knopf. 246-247)pp.
- Gide (1948, p. 334).
- Gide A. (1935). Bussy D., translator. If It Die: An Autobiography. New York: Random House.